Ah, another week has flown by! Let`s see how many stories I can tell you in the remainder of my email time:
1) I learned this week the power of companionship unity! Our district leader`s message in Friday`s district meeting centered around this topic, and it was definitely inspired. Hermana Estrada and I were able to talk openly afterward, and now we`ve reached that level of friendship and trust that helps us work together toward the same goals, share the stress, and invite the Spirit in our lessons. Seriously, it`s been like someone turned on a light in our companionship. So hey, everyone, don`t forget to communicate! Help your companion, and let your companion help you! Unity invites the Spirit!
2) We went on divisions with two sisters in the ward to help us find new investigators and lessen the stress of meeting the numbers goals. Wow, let me say one more time how much I love working with members! I was with Vanessa, who just submitted her mission papers. We visited a less-active who Vanessa knew from a few years before in Young Womens, but who stopped coming to church when she became a teenage mother and some members said horrible things. Vanessa was able to share her testimony as we read in the Book of Mormon, and the less-active sister cried and said she would come to church this week. Better yet, she actually came! Other things we learned from doing divisions: 1) tons of ward gossip (that`s a huge thing in Central America, it seems), 2) confidence in my ability to teach, find, and do other missionary things on my own, and 3) where a bunch of less actives and past investigators live.
3) We were contacting one day and started talking to a family about prophets. At first, they were asking good questions, but within a couple of minutes we realized they were super firm Jehovah`s Witnesses. We would have closed the lesson quickly (that`s really not going to lead to baptism and is not a very good use of our time), but then the wife comes out with these delicious sweet bread things hot from the oven. So we enjoyed our heavenly bread as these two men got their game faces on and pulled out a bunch of scriptures, and we calmly answered with our own scriptures, testimonies, and invitations to read, pray, and come to church. But it was actually really interesting to hear their ideas of what`s going to happen after we die and so forth. And even more testimony-building for me to realize that we don`t have to search for obscure scriptures to interpret in a way that upholds our religion, or get all worked up and contentious to defend it, because it`s simply TRUE!
4) Jason, Gerald, and Erwin (14-year-old soccer buddies) are progressing nicely in their testimonies, even though sometimes we want to smack them with our hard-cover Libros de Mormon because they`re afraid to commit when they know it`s true. Comments from Jason: ¨Do I have to get baptized to be a member of the church? Like, if I don`t get baptized on the 15th of November, can I keep coming to church?¨ Comments from Gerald:¨What if the person baptizing me drops me? Or we both faint, or smack our heads on the wall, and we drown?¨ Comments from Erwin: ¨I can`t go to church today, because my eye is still swollen from getting hit in the soccer game the other day and it`s too embarrassing for people to see me.¨ We do our best to maintain composure, resolve their concerns, and help them recognize the Spirit and the importance of keeping commitments. I see some major missionary material, they just need to recognize it and hearken unto the voice of the Spirit! (Apparently the Lord is preparing a lot of 14-year-old boys in Loma Linda to hear the gospel right now...)
5) Not every moment is Ensign-worthy. Our hearts broke this week as we found out about a pornography addiction with one of our investigators. Another recent convert is addicted to illegal drugs. But I`ve been learning a lot about the Atonement and repentance in my personal study. There`s nothing more wonderful than recognizing the healing that is available to us as we apply the sacrifice of the Savior in our lives. I knew the gospel was true before coming on a mission, but these experiences have put that testimony to the test and are teaching me how to really APPLY these principles.
Anyway, enough of the novel for this week. I love you lots! The gospel is true! Don`t stress, don`t compare yourself to others, and be obedient!
1) Happy Hallo-Birthday, Mom!
2) Divisions with Vanessa! (Please excuse the grease and lighting and red eyes and everything... missionary work is glamorous!)